The most recent version of ‘As Days Go By’ was approaching its 2 year anniversary this summer. What made you decide to restart?
There were a lot of factors that went into the decision. I have to admit one of the reasons was Keith bringing ‘Our Days in Salem’ back and picking up with the current storylines on the real show. Through his work, I saw the potential the current canvas has. I wanted to take advantage of that potential.
Currently, the show’s stories and characters are very different from when you took over the writing duties in the summer of 2013. Sami and EJ are no longer on the show. Kristen now only makes sporadic appearances. The show brought back both of Shane Donovan’s daughters, Theresa and Eve.
Exactly! Though, I did send Sami out of town as well. With the love of her life Lucas, I may add. You’re right, though; the new opportunities were so tempting to pass up. Theresa Donovan is a character writers dream to have land in their lap. She has no chill button. You can do so much with her. And I’m looking forward to writing for her. As for Eve, I’ll reveal that I had plans to bring Eve onto ADGB for May sweeps. Her return would be very different than how the real show brought her back, which I don’t think was very well. The potential was certainly there in the beginning with rights to Jack’s book and all. And then it sort of just fell flat once they started having her sleep with her daughter’s boyfriend.
Speaking of JJ and Eve’s affair, it’s just one of the many stories the fans have been crying foul about. What is your honest opinion about the current state of the show’s stories?
I think they’re awful. I’m just being honest. A lot of what we’re seeing sounds good on paper. The execution, however, has been horrendous. JJ and Eve is one the biggest blunders I see right now. There was no real motivation to make it happen, which was certainly necessary. Otherwise, it really hurts the characters. A mother sleeping with her daughter’s boyfriend is a soap staple. Marion sleeping with Tad while he dated Liza is considered a top moment for All My Children. It’s due to the way it was handled, though. I don’t think years from now, the same will be said for JJ and Eve.
What about the other stories going on?
Like JJ and Eve’s affair, I think some of the other stories have great potential. It’s just not being capitalized, it seems. Serena Mason has been on this show since December and all we know is she came for an elephant statue. An elephant statue. Everything doesn’t have to be revealed all at once, but we should have more insight into Serena’s agenda than we do right now. Same can be said about Chad. It was recently revealed through a conversation with Stefano that Chad came back to seduce Abigail. There has been no indication of this through the character’s actions. Why? You can’t just have the character say these things and call it a story without some sort of build up.
What do you plan to do about this problem?
I don’t want to give too much away, as I’ll be giving out spring previews before the premiere and there will be hints as to what’s coming up. What I do want to promise is I’m going to be taking a look at what’s working and what’s not. There is no reason why Nicole doesn’t have a single person on her side. I get it, she did a pretty bad thing to Eric Brady. The Bradys are royalty in Salem. People are going to have something to say about her and not want to be around her. Not everyone though. She can be the town pariah and still have some support.
For things that aren’t working, like certain characters, will you be getting rid of them? There’s a set of rules the late and great Douglas Marland has when it comes to writing a successful soap. One says you don’t get rid of anyone for the first 6 months.
Correct. And I’ve always tended to agree with those rules, besides this one. If a character isn’t working, why prolong it and make the audience suffer? Sure, some characters can be fixed when written differently. Some can’t, however. There are several characters that will be written off. The fans have no interest in them. And neither do I.
What are your thoughts on writing for the veteran characters?
A passing of the torch, if you want to call it that, is necessary. Especially on a show like DAYS that’s based on adventure storylines and intrigue. John Black cannot do the same things he did in the 80s and 90s. He just can’t. What he can do, however, is act as a mentor to the next Salem hero. It not only keeps John in the action, it also establishes a newer character within the fans eyes. Fans of John’s will become fans of the new character. At least that’s the hope.
It sounds like you want to bring back the concept of multi-generational storylines.
Totally! I think those work best. Fans get to still see their favorites, and we get to also usher in a new generation of characters that will be the future of the show. It has to happen for the show to last. The last time, I think we saw it done successfully was in the 80s. And that’s unfortunate. I’m a 90s fan when it comes to DAYS. That’s when I started. However, one thing I notice when I look back, younger characters weren’t being developed to become leaders and take over storylines. Yes, we had Sami, Carrie, Austin and Lucas. That was it, however. And only one of those characters in that group remains.
A gripe fans have when it comes to new and younger characters is the lack of connection with the history of the show. How will you overcome that obstacle?
It’s a gripe of mine as well. There is 50 years worth of history. There are so many characters that can be brought in and their connections to the show’s history have already been established. What did Noelle Curtis and Benjamin Carver grow up to do? Where is Andrew Donovan? What does Sarah Horton think of Maggie’s marriage to Victor? Justin and Adrienne have three other sons besides Sonny. The character list is endless!
Before we end the interview, I know you said you have spring previews coming out before the premiere, but please leave the fans with some more insight on what to expect, if you will.
Fans can expect to see several characters that just aren’t working being shown the door. There will be some characters that aren’t exactly liked by fans sticking around, but that’s because I think there are other sides to the characters to explore that the fans will enjoy. We have a very large cast. It’s going to be reduced, for sure, so I there can be a focus on the characters we have left. Expect to see Marlena Evans take her place as the show’s center character. I’m a firm believer that the character, with all of her history, deserves it. As I stated previously, we’re going to be digging into the show’s history and bringing on characters the fans have been asking to see. It’s time their story gets told. At the end of the day, this show was created and based upon family. It’s my mission to get back to the basics.